Choices and Decisions: Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Don’t be fooled by the New Year’s Resolutions crap out there.  Statistics state that between 8092% of New Year’s Resolutions fail. The reason: there is a large difference between choices and decisions. Understanding this difference will allow you to avoid this dangerous trap, and set you up for true success.

Understanding does not matter unless you combine it with implementing massive practical action. This blog will show you how to understand this concept, as well as give you practical insight to apply to your life. This will ultimately determine if you win or lose in life, and what legacy/story you leave behind.

Everyone carries emotional scars, hurts, baggage, pain, and deep wounds.  What are yours? Have you been abused or let down by somebody you trusted?  Have you loved with all of you and in return been stabbed in the back (or heart)? Has someone you were close to been taken from this world too soon? Have you gone all in with a business idea only to have it crash, burn, fail and spiral you into massive debt?  Did you not receive that promotion or close that deal you know you deserved? Did you awake Christmas morning to read a message from a great friend whose cancer has returned?  Are you that friend who sent the Christmas message?

If the answer is yes, you have made choices and decisions surrounding these events. What are they? Do you understand the difference between the two?  Are you constantly finding yourself chained by destructive thoughts, behaviors, patterns and mindset as a result?  Do you find comfort in alcohol, anger, drugs, rage, hate, eating three pizzas, pornography, guilt, pills,  _______(fill in your blank)? If so, how is a New Year’s resolution going to remedy all of that?  The truth is, a resolution, when approached as merely a choice, will not remedy that at all.

Tweet: January 1st is just another day, New Year’s resolutions quickly fade away.

A resolution is typically a choice to momentarily behave differently. We make choices constantly throughout the day.  Example, I chose to drink café con leche (spanish coffee) and eat tostada con tomate (spanish toast) every morning.  I have the option to chose between various food and beverages every morning, and choose to go Spanish style.

A New Year’s resolution is a choice inspired by a social construct around time (Dec 31 to Jan 1) and a sheeplike mentality to follow the masses.

Unless a choice becomes a decision, it will not become an ingrained and wired habit. That is why the gym gets quiet in mid February.

Using my above example, I decided (based on continuing to choose) that Spain will permanantly play an important role in my life. It has impacted me so greatly that I made the decision to share it with others. That is part of the legacy I will leave behind that is greater than me. Now, what was initially a choice to eat spanish breakfast every morning, is no longer a choice. It is a result that happens naturally based off my decision of my legacy, including sharing my Spain story to inspire and encourage others. The consistent daily choice that created inspiration to decide has now become an unconscious action, habit and state of being. New Year’s resolutions (which start off as choices) do not evoke this kind of action, habit and state of being unless they become permanent decisions. Are you making choices or decisions? How are these making an impact in your life? Are you arriving to your destination and vision, or are you massively off course?

Choices are not sustainable for the long term, but when they become a decision to do life a different way, a huge shift takes place! These decisions create habits that become ingrained patterns of behavior, and as Tony Robbins says, “decisions shape your destiny.” What decisions have you made that have shaped your destiny?  What course are you headed on?  If you continue to do life the way you do life, where will you end up?  What is your trajectory?

If you made a New Year’s resolution, excellent!  Don’t feel bad about me saying that resolutions are crap.  Just make sure your resolution does not end up as only a choice that the masses also make, but rather a decision inspired by something greater than you. If it is not, it will fade and fail. What are the daily habits and actions that are driven by decisions you have made?  If these decisions have sucked, thus creating bad habits and patterns, how will you focus on changing the pattern (decision), not just the action (choice)?  Only when that happens will you truely accomplish a resolution.

Now that the concept is clear, here are 13 practical action steps to apply today. These steps, when acted upon will change your habits, patterns and ultimately decisions, as well as tactically arrive to your legacy.

  • Evaluate what choices and decisions you have made and where they have taken you in life.  Where will they continue to take you?  What will happen if you continue down this path?  What will your story be?  Write it down.
  • You must decide to do life differently-until you do this, habits will not change.  What do you decide today will either exit or enter your life.  Write it down.
  • Why this decision is bigger than you, and how will it positively impact the world and those you care about? Write it down.
  • Set your Destination and vision: your life in the present, assuming you have arrived to your destination. Write it down. Here is an example of M & E Painting’s Vision. It was written in 2013, as if it was 2016.  Today I reflect on that vision being accomplished.
  • Create and write down an action plan, step-by-step to arrive to your destination.  Just like directions to drive from your home to the grocery store, map out each step you must take to arrive from your current situation to your vision.
  • As Grant Cardone says, “you will understate your goal by 10, and will underestimate the work required to accomplish it by 10”.  Set your goal 10x as big, and plan to work 10x as hard to hit it.
  • Turn the action required into a promise to someone you deeply care about.
  • Name a “real” accountability partner to hold you to this promise, and make sure they agree to do so. This person does not necessarily have to be the person you made the promise to. A real accountability partner will do just that, hold you accountable. They will smack you in the face (literally, figuratively or both) if you are not DOING, what you promised when you promised to do it.
  • Get to work doing what’s important now. Right now! What is the most important thing you can do at the beginning of each day that will step-by-step slowly take you to your destination. DO NOT make a to do list, as these remind you of all the pieces of the elephant you are about to eat. Instead, schedule the task (piece) in your calendar and do it first thing in the morning. Now, schedule the next task (your next “what’s important now”).
  • Rinse and repeat. Keep eating that elephant.
  • Expect to be massively imperfect in your action. Keep working.  Remember that an object in motion will continue to stay in motion unless another force stops it.  Do not be, or let others be, the force that stops your motion and action.
  • Do not measure daily.  Rather measure over longer time periods such as months, quarters and years.  People overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in three years.
  • Find, subscribe to, follow, or connect with a source of inspiration and encouragement such as a blog, video series, book, event, and people.

These are facts supported by human behavior and motivation, not my opinion. I know with absolute certainty this is true because I have made dozens of resolutions (choices) that have faded, and I have decided to changed patterns in my own life (decisions) that have shaped my destiny. None of my decisions happened on December 31/January 1 of any year. Remember this:

Tweet: January 1st is just another day, New Year’s resolutions quickly fade away.

Wait a minute, I just realized I need to stick to inspiration, encouragement and practical wisdom, not poetry. This is what happens when I get super caffeinated early in the morning.  Happy 2016! Make it a year of decisions, not choices.

This blog is dedicated to the friend who sent that Christmas message.

If you want to keep getting caffeinated with me, click the coffee cup to the left to receive my latest blog posts, podcast episodes, speaking event updates and videos.  I will send you emails weekly that pack a punch of awesomeness!

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